The Future of Cinema Was Mulled and Mused Over at The Jagran Cinema Summit 2018

Business Events | October 11, 2018 | Feature

Gitikka Ganju Dhar

India is a nation of more than a billion people, 29 states, 22 scheduled languages, innumerable cultures, practices, religions, ideologies and lifestyles. Cinema of a country like ours has to be glorious. And magnificent, marvelous and memorable it is!

And so, leaders and experts from the world of Indian cinema, film connoisseurs and movie aficionados huddled together at Dainik Jagran’s 2nd edition of the Jagran Cinema Summit in Mumbai. The Jagran Cinema Summit is an effort towards creating a culture of cinema appreciation by curating a platform that fosters the exchange and exploration of ideas, trends and opportunities in the art and business of cinema. The event was curated by Mayank Shekhar and conceptualized and executed by Vibhor Kwatra who is Head, Brand Events, Jagran Group.

Indian cinema today stands at the edge of a new frontier. The storyline of Indian cinema is being re-written by brave, veracious and visionary talent. The flux is for all to see. The seismic shift is indeed underway. Yes, formulaic films are still being made, but now they are not the whole pie but a slice of it. The other blackbirds baked in this pie are new age cinema, short films, digital films, niche films, regional cinema and American-Indie films. The range of subjects ‎that filmmakers are drawing from is expanding like the accelerating expansion of our universe. It can be safely said that the global movement of realism in cinema is gaining while mindless entertainment is ebbing. The Holy Grail of Indian cinema is indeed being redrafted. The future of cinema is here. And it was mulled and mused over at this one of a kind summit!

The Welcome Note was delivered by Vinod Shrivastava, Chief General Manager - Strategy, Business and Brand Development, Jagran Prakashan. The summit kicked off in style with the son of iconic villain and action director M. B. Shetty, Rohit Shetty, who began his career in the movies at the age of 17 as an assistant director on Phool Aur Kaante. I have also read interesting tidbits about how he had to execute ordinary jobs and errands on film sets in the early days, like ironing clothes and styling hair of lead artists. As director, he has entertained a billion Indians with supernova like motion picture after motion picture. I think, as a director, he is exceptionally skilled, cogent, clear-headed and imaginative with an uncanny ability to know what the Indian audiences will lap up. Has he silenced his critics? Yes, the monumental success of his work has. Rohit Shetty was in conversation with film critic and Festival Director, Jagran Film Festival, Mayank Shekhar, about how he is the audience’s BFF!

Rajeev Kumar, Chief Operating Officer at Drishyam VFX and Danny Wilson, a filmmaker, marketer, writer and director, then spoke about how special effects can make cinema simpler! In the year 1902 was made a film, A Trip to The Moon. A Trip to the Moon was beyond mind-boggling when it played for audiences at the start of the 20th century. At the time, viewers were still prone to ducking under their seats at the sight of a train on the big screen. But magician-turned-director Georges Melies fired a collection of goofy French stereotypes to the moon, God help you, in a bullet. The effects were revolutionary and still have the ability to cause the wow effect thanks to the director’s simplistic approach.  Going forward, movies such as Gravity proved 3D, IMAX, CGI and VFX were more than just ticket-sale-inflating buzzwords. In the hands of the right filmmaker, effects can be art and can be used to make the process of filmmaking simple for filmmakers trying to portray the reality of dreams rather than their extraordinary nature.

The audience then deep dived into the Evolving Idea of the Bollywood Star with Mayank Shekhar who was in conversation with Abhishek Bachchan. I recently made a trip to the cinemas to see this actor in action, after a self-imposed two-year hiatus. The pitch of the film Manmarziyan was high, the film was buzzing with zest, energy and verve. But through the entire length of the film what spoke to me the most were the eyes of the lead protagonist essayed by Abhishek Bachchan. Such was the eloquence of this endearing star that he had the hall listening to him with none even batting an eyelid.  

It's been a great run for cinema, a business that began with the Lumière Brothers' early creations rumbling, mumbling and jumbling in Paris playhouses in 1895. The business has generated uncountable billions in ticket sales over its 120-plus years run. Sadly, it's about to suffer a mortal wound. In your living room. The causes: India has about 10,000 cinema screens across a country of 1.3 billion. This means that for every million people, there are less than eight screens, compared with 30 in China and 120 in the United States! So even if India is the biggest movie churner in the world, there are just not enough screens. Premium VOD, digital-on-demand delivery of films to your TV and devices on a much shorter schedule than the traditional 90 days is underway. What is happening is that we are selling out the one thing that's always put bottoms in the seats. It's not giant screens, or booming sound, or "the communal experience of a darkened movie theater," all things that movie people love to romanticize about. The magic of the movies has been, is, and always will be, exclusive content. Major studios are on the brink of deals that will make new releases available to be streamed. Once deals are sealed, the doomsday clock will start ticking. Or is it, picture abhi baaki hai mere dost?

Panelists such as Vikramaditya Motwane, Ritesh Batra, Nandita Das, Dinesh Vijan, Devang Sampat, Tanveer Bookwala, Vivaan Shah and Vijay Singh deliberated on the mudda with Mayank Shekhar.

We then peered into the Way Forward for Cinematic Virtual Reality, a presentation by Chaitanya Chichlikar, the Business Head & Chief Technology Officer of Whistling Woods International & Head of the Whistling Woods Jio VR Lab. The evening climaxed with the queen of climaxes, Ekta Kapoor. Mayank spoke to her about going OTT on OTT. India is perceived as an attractive business landscape by global branded digital content players. Factors like exponential growth of smartphone users and introduction of high speed internet services have encouraged OTT content providers to establish their presence in India. Also, Indian government’s Digital India initiative is considered a positive signal by the several such service providers. It is estimated that by 2020, the smartphone penetration in India will be 520 million and broadband usage will rise by 40%. This shift is not supposed to affect TV viewership, rather it will boost a person’s online time.

So, at the Jagran Cinema Summit we spoke about the this, that, how, what, which and who of Indian cinema. As an anchor, I was in anchor-heaven listening to subjects I majored in but never got a chance to practice. But as they say, picture abhi baaki hai mere dost! You never know on which cinematic screen and as what will the world’s funniest surname, Ganju, appear!

About the author
Gitikka Ganju Dhar is a Live Host, TV Anchor & Event Content Writer based in Mumbai.

Connect with Gitikka on Twitter

The event was curated by Mayank Shekhar and conceptualized and executed by Vibhor Kwatra who is Head, Brand Events, Jagran Group.

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